Honey: nature’s remedy!


HoneyRemember the ‘Sugar Puffs Monster’? He often reminded his so-called mummy to “Tell them about the honey!”… Given that ‘mummy’ was a middle-age man, though, we haven’t really any idea what was going on in those adverts!

However, what we do have an idea about is the degree to which many people find honey to be a force for good! In fact, honey has been used for healing since the days of Ancient Egypt where it was applied to wounds. Mind you, it was also used as an offering to please numerous gods, though, so we’re not saying the Egyptians got everything right! And while they were onto something with the wound thing, it wasn’t until the 19th century that science started to catch up. In any case, here are a few honey-based health benefits…

What kind of honey are we talking about?
In regard to the benefits that follow, we’re fairly specific when we think we need to be. Most honey contains a mild form of hydrogen peroxide, though, and it’s this that gives honey some of its antibacterial properties. As a further rule of thumb, ‘medical grade’ and ‘manuka’ honeys are reputedly the best for wound treatment and health respectively.

Medical Grade and Manuka Honeys?
Yes, indeed! Some honey is used by healthcare professionals and, to reduce the risk of infection, made sterile. Honey made from the flowers of the New Zealand manuka bush, meanwhile, is widely available in health shops with the useful manuka ‘grade’ ranking as either UMF 10, 15 or 20… The higher the number, say the regulators, the greater its health benefits – although some people seem sensitive to the highest grade.

Before we get into any detail here, a word of warning:  you must keep honey away from babies. We’re deadly serious! Honey sometimes contains spores that carry the bacteria that causes  infant botulism. For that reason, children under 12 months of age, or with any kind of immunity issues, should not be given honey under any circumstances. Assuming that’s all clear, though, here are some uses for honey! It…

Soothes coughs!
Studies conducted with children suffering from coughs in 2007 found that ‘buckwheat honey’ performed better at calming night-time coughs than the cough suppressant dextromethorphan. Not only that, it also improved the patients’ sleep!

A separate study of kids’ night-time coughs caused by colds also shows that children who took two teaspoons of honey 30 minutes before bed coughed less frequently and less severely – and they slept better as well!

Improves sleep:
As you may gather from the above, honey is linked to better sleep. Ron Fessenden, MD , MPH – author of the book ‘The Honey Revolution: Restoring the Health of Future Generations’ –  notes that raw honey contains the ideal ratio of fructose to glucose to support the liver, which works incredibly hard during the sleeping process…

So it seems that eating honey ensures the liver has a good supply of glycogen during the day – but taking it just before bed, with a little water, sets up your liver with a very fine fuel! In other words, you give your liver a great deal of what it needs in order to do its overnight detoxing if you take a little honey before bed.

Treats wounds:
A Norwegian study of New Zealand ‘Medihoney’ and of Norwegian Forest Honey, found the produce killed all strains of bacteria in wounds. Other studies show that many wounds that don’t heal with conventional treatment do respond to unprocessed honey. This honey can be applied either directly or via a dressing. The dressing should be changed every 24 to 48 hours. If used directly, apply between 15ml and 30ml of honey every 12 to 48 hours and cover with a sterile dressing.

Boosts memory:
Some research – albeit a little slapdash for our tastes – suggests that consuming a daily dose of about 20g of honey boosts short-term memory. The jury might still be out on this one but we can’t see a downside to reporting the potential!

Is nutritious!
Replacing sugar with honey as your sweetener of choice gives you more nutrients for your calories! As America’s National Honey Board puts it, honey contains “small amounts of a wide array of vitamins and minerals, including niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.”

Beats hay fever?
Honey made locally may help relieve hay fever! Just take a dollop, say the believers, and the small amounts of allergens in that honey will help you build resistance to greater quantities externally. What do the scientists say? Well… They quite rightly say that more tests are needed!

Kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria…
Astonishingly, medical-grade honey has been shown to kill pathogens including E.coli and salmonella. It also made short work of the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa… What the heck are they, you might be wondering! They’re some of the more pernicious bacteria that we’re told linger menacingly in the corridors, cupboards and offices of our hospitals!

And helps keep you fit!
Athletes the world over depend on sugar-rich drinks, gels and sweets in order to get their carbohydrates. Whether they’re taking them before, during or after an event, it’s essential to consume something that restores energy…

Perhaps unsurprisingly, honey is an excellent, all-natural source of this energy. In fact, it’s better than many other sources because it doesn’t just replenish sugars – it has a bunch of nutrients, too. That’s why plenty of people add a dollop of honey to their water bottles, and why honey-orientated snacks are common at endurance events!

Well, it feels to us that we’ve only just started on the subject of honey – but must now draw it to a close! Perhaps we’ll come back to the subject in a couple of issues of Bob’s Bones since it seems we’ve only just scratched the surface. Mind you, if we had just scratched the surface, one of the first things we could do to help heal it is pop a dollop of honey on it!

Back in Shape cannot accept responsibility for the consequences of any action or inaction based on its Newsletter or Info Sheets. In particular, of course, those with special dietary requirements such as diabetics should be hugely cautious in relation to information regarding sweet foods such as honey! If you have any doubts or concerns over medical and health issues, our best advice is always to pop in to see us, visit your GP or call NHS Direct on 111 to discuss your health!